January 14, 2016 | Car Accidents
If driverless autos deliver on their promise to greatly reduce fatal traffic accidents, the technology will perhaps rank among the most transformative public-health initiatives in human history. But how many lives can be saved?
By the end of this century, given the advent of the self driving car, there’s good reason to believe that tens of millions of traffic fatalities will be prevented around the world.
This is not merely theoretical. There’s already some precedent for change of this scope in the realms of car culture and automotive safety. In 1970, about 60,000 people died in traffic accidents in the United States. As the decades carried on, a dramatic shift toward safety – including seat belts and airbags laws – helped improve a person’s chance of surviving the American roadways. By 2013, 32,719 people died in traffic crashes, a historic low.
Researchers estimate that driverless cars could, by midcentury, reduce traffic fatalities by up to 90 percent. That means that using the number of fatalities in 2013 as a baseline, self-driving cars could save 29,447 lives a year. In the United States alone that means nearly 300,000 fatalities prevented over the course of a decade, and 1.5 million lives saved in a half-century.
This also has implications for the car insurance world. See this interesting article discussing auto insurance and self-driving cars: Link
Globally, there are about 1.2 million traffic fatalities annually, according to the World Health Organization. Which means driverless cars are poised to save 10 million lives per decade—and 50 million lives around the world in half a century.
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